Ghosts of The Tomb Builders

This is one of the very few poems I’ve “written for a purpose”, so I hope it suggests there is some merit in this practice. Usually I have to wait until some urge is tugging at my attention, until a poem is aching to be written. Sometimes life affords few such moments, so it is good now and then to be given a reason to write something about something to get the machine working.

I have slowly started venturing back into the Manchester poetry scene. There used to be a great night at the Frog and Bucket that I used to attend with my friend Louise, and I would read frequently, along with a cast of some great people. But life kind of changed and other things took over – so that drifted away along with a lot of other things! It was almost as if I went through several years of exile. Anyway, now I have started writing again, I decided it was time to get out there a bit more, so I started going to a new writers’ group (which I still go to, despite getting some pretty negative comments on two very good poems), and also looked at any current poetry nights. I know there are slams and such, but one that struck me as a good place to start was the Freed Up night at the Green Room – central, and with friendly organisers who replied helpfully to my email enquiries (thanks Steve and Dominic!). So, I went along, and met another poet I had met over the internet through her excellent poetry – watch out for Room without Doors!

Anyway, it was a great night, meeting some great people, and I read 2 poems, which seemed to go down quite well, and overall there was a nice mixture of the serious and the comic, with some great characters and great performances. I would recommend the Freed Up nights at the Green Room for anyone in the Manchester area, as it is a supportive atmosphere, open mike, not competitive, and just gives everyone the space to read their stuff. More info can be found at The Green Room

Oh, getting back to where I started, the nights have a theme each month to encourage new writing. I did take an old poem, but thought I’d better write something new as well! The theme for the night was ghosts, so I wrote this poem, based on my experiences over the summer visiting ancient Welsh burial sites such as Tinkinswood in South Wales, and the Cromlech on the Great Orme in Llandudno.

cromlech great orme llandudno

Ghosts of the Tomb Builders

Cross-legged by the Cromlech, I watch summer ghosts
As they bury their dead, here by the stones
They left as mark or memorial, these tomb builders.
Did their tears water the grass of this untended place,
Did screams tear the air and slow down hearts
By this nameless tomb where ritual
Has given way to history? Did the bones
Quietly resurrect themselves, in the wind stir,
Or did unkind visitors remove their traces?
Eyes closed, I let the dead answer, show me their grim
Procession, surely something of grief in the hands
That crack bone and place the pieces of their
Dead so carefully here. These ghosts are five thousand
Years away, animal furs for clothes, skins
Still flecked with the blood of their murdered;
Yet not so different that I cannot feel eventual
Tears muddy their faces, brute survival giving way
For minutes, to the pausings and stirrings of grief.
A spider weaves now where the bones once were,
New dead have found in this their resting place;
Yet those human ghosts still lay their claim,
Grim purpose in the shape and aspect of the stones
Still standing; those ghosts still whisper, remind
The living that so much, and so little time has passed.

Darkfall

As the clocks go back, the nights draw in, fireworks fill the air, Christmas decorations threaten, and the air gets colder, I thought it was appropriate to bring this poem to a wider audience. It has gone down well at readings in the past, I only hope it goes down well at my new Writers’ group tonight, as I have decided to take it along. Normally I would take a recent poem, but I think the season demands another airing!

Darkfall

Almost November. Someone pulls
A drawstring, tightens sky,
Murk seeps into streets
With a smell of smoke as crisp as leaves;
Stars start to look colder.

The country is at war:
Flak every night, boom of munitions,
Enemies sizzle in midair.
Cars are targeted as fallout and shrapnel
Keep the wise within.

Rain offers an uneasy ceasefire,
Killing off squibs and forcing retreat.
Desire smoulders in front of TV sets,
Interrupted by a sinister knock -
Not witches, these days, but killers.

Without this darkening, pausing
Of the world, we could never
Learn to treasure summer,
Not appreciate the skin of safety
Our windows, walls and doors provide.

Just two months, then it’s Christmas.
Afterwards, days will grow healthy again.
Today it was twilight at 5pm.
In this dark, just walking home is fear,
And fear is every passing stranger.

Great Orme, August 2006

great orme llandudno

I’m becoming very fond of Llandudno and all it, and the surrounding North Wales coast, has to offer. I recently returned there and spent several splendid October days, but this poem was conceived on my first trip there in August, although my mind didn’t give birth to it until late September.

It’s about walking on the Great Orme, about being alive, being at one with nature, and about being aware of one’s own mortality in the midst of natural beauty that itself is not eternal.

Llandudno is naturally fenced off on both sides by two mountains called the Ormes – Great Orme and Little Orme. The Great Orme is a spectacular natural habitat for many kinds of wildlife, with spectacular sea views and many pleasant walks. Despite being popular with tourists, it is always possible to find a remote spot and indulge in solitude with the spirit of the Orme (norse for sea monster, perhaps worm…)

The photos in this poetry blog entry were actually taken at the moment I believe this poem had started to gestate in my mind, as I looked over the cliffs and saw a group of bleating goats! In the future I am hoping also to use video to create audio visial accompaniment to my poems, and perhaps publish on DVD!

great orme llandudno

Great Orme
Llandudno, August 2006

From stone to stone my feet
Trespass in these avenues
Where heather forgives my steps,
Creatures-become-stone my
Pavement as the wind sets
And a tarpaulin of sea smooths
Out from periphery to periphery.

Out here the dead whisper louder
Than the living shout, goats
Keep counsel with wind, their quick
Questions, summations, might
Be nothing more than hellos
As I perch in their world
On the edge of my tomorrows.

Hours from anywhere and
Just a second from death’s
Forgetfulness, gravity holds me in stasis
As moon swells up the hemisphere,
Drags wave after wave on rock below;
The goats and I hang on like
Bleating and determined gods.

I have walked and found sanctuary
On this headland that will give way
To sea in a century or two, so firm
Beneath my feet yet like all the world it will
Follow the dead creatures of its birthing
Into other avenues of existence,
Perhaps a sea kingdom next;

Yet for now the stone bears my weight
And time has yet to do its worst
Half way through our stone and flesh lives;
I will come back here when a few more
Days have dandelion-clocked; when vision
Drags my feet and I must have faith
That I and the living world still spin.

Only the Tide

I spent a few days in Llandudno recently, a trip I’d booked as soon as I returned from my last visit to Wales to stay with Louise and Phil in their beautiful country cottage. I’m finding lately that going away is preferable to coming home, a big change for sure – I’m feeling a lot more comfortable with “getting out there” than staying in my comfort zone of routine and habit, which is entirely as it should be.

I’d never been to Llandudno before, but fell in love with the place as soon as I got there, perhaps it was the sea air switching on and sparking dormant synapses – it was also a moment when I realised that something had been missing from my life for many years, viz the constant, gentle sussurations of the sea. I lived in Swansea for three years as a student, and the ocean was a constant companion; getting to stay out on the coast for a few days brought back a lot of memories, of nights spent on the beach reading poems, getting drunk and smoking, and always the waves, the ceaseless barrage of the waves against the shore.

So here I was again, a different place – but sometimes places are made up of things we carry within ourselves. In any case, I had a great time, climbed the Little Orme, went up Great Orme on the Victorian Tramway, walked for miles, and also visited Conwy, where I managed to get out on a boat and out onto my beloved ocean, as well as venturing into the maginificent medieval castle.

You would expect that I had many things to inspire me, and indeed I started a number of poems which will bear fruit, but one poem demanded to be written, and came from an unexpected source. Walking along Llandudno promenade, I came across a stone set on the paving just by the beach, with a sprig of flowers held in place by a pile of pebbles. The stone was a memorial to five friends who had died in a speedboat accident off the coast, on the 25th August 1992 – almost to the day, which was why I assume there were fresh flowers there. The names and the ages of the dead – all in their late teens and early twenties, struck a deep chord of pathos within me, as did the fact two of them had been engaged to be married. I did not know the circumstances of the accident, but the memorial stone and its words struck me very deeply, the tragedy of young lives cut short – and so I will let my poem speak for them and my feelings.

Only The Tide

Only the tide is certain to return to shore
Memorial stone on Llandudno promenade

A stone commemorates close
To where exhilaration killed them,
Fresh flowers here tonight
As I walk with their voices
Carrying on wind and wave.

Imagination paints faces under
Cold depth and air escaping
Giving way to water as eyes turn
To pebble, hair to seaweed before
Their flotsam bodies lay to rest.

My tears mingle with spindrift
And the countless weepings here
In dark with a mother’s grief
Or a father’s rage and the waves’
Eternal echo of unfinished lives.

What joy as they sped before their dark,
Sun in their hair, laughter-kissed hearts,
Becoming the velocity they sought,
Quick and alive until that second
When the end sent broken bodies to shore.

Fresh flowers, a stone to anchor memory,
Allowing pain its tides, but nothing can ever
Undo their joy or scrub their quick spirits
From time; in the thankful dark I pay my respects
To five beautiful dead who did not fear to live.

Old Friend on a Web Page

The longer the internet goes on, the more it comes to resemble a kind of living, constant time capsule, the artefacts not deliberately buried but more lost in the constant avalanche of new pages. We might expect one day to find our own image, long removed, cached in some archive we’ve never even heard of, and one day the Internet may well be littered with references to our names long after the virtual pages survive us.

A few weeks ago I decided to trawl the net for a few names from my old University days. There was one particular person who was a very good friend of mine, fellow poet, drinker, smoker, and traveller through time. We did readings together, drank together, and after I left Swansea we stayed in touch for quite a while – but as my life took over we lost touch. It’s funny how in our memories we expect things to stay the same – when I found a reference to him, he had moved to an entirely different city and was doing the last thing I would have imagined he would be doing for a living (well maybe not the last thing, but the drabness of it seemed to reflect my own situation, where my poetic life had slowly drifted away from me through the chains of full-time work…)

Anyway, here’s the poem that came out of the feelings and memories that came out of seeing his photo and brief bio on a web page. I read this last night at my literary group, and my audience like this poem a lot – they say my new voice has a maturity my earlier poems lack. What do you think? :)

Old Friend on a Web Page

His picture opened the wormhole
Between the me of now and the me
Of yesterday, dna freezeframed,
Stirring up forgotten photons.

Like it always is the difference
Came from changes in myself
And the entropy of experience;
He was not the same of course

But I recognized the configuration
Of his face, leaner now perhaps,
The hair shorter and the eyes haunted,
A parallel version of himself.

These were intersected seconds
Between now and the years
That simply didn’t happen
In the same continuum as mine,

As if we fell through cracks in time
Or split like particles with different
Properties as we sped to our own
Alternatives and imperatives.

It is easy to believe in ghosts
When the living haunt us
And faces drift like stars from view
As lives like galaxies expand.

Are you only swirling electrons now,
Image of an absent friend projected
From a distant point in time
To ask your questions of me now?

If only the living could speak
As loud as the dead through history,
His living voice might beckon,
Tune in from the static of memory.

Morning Bus Ride

The French poet Paul Valery said that a poem is never finished, only abandonded, and this is something I’ve certainly come to agree with over the years. Poetry is all about playing with words, playing with language, and play done properly is a process, not an end in itself. All the great poems in all the great languages could have been just a little different had the poet decided to just spend another few hours or minutes and change few things. Yet at some stage we need to abandon and move on, so here’s a poem I think I can justly abandon, as I have others to work on, and need to keep getting them up here to afford myself some means of motivation :)

So this one came into my head while I was sitting on a bus (going to work for the last time as it happens, I have now left that job and am engrossed in creative projects!), looking at a woman frantically applying her makeup in a mirror as the bus jerked and rumbled, and these lines came to mind

Morning Bus Ride

Beauty, its question marks
Curled by the mirror, too full of sun
And memories of once forever desire.

A statue with broken eyes, she
Pouts and pores over her image,
And puzzled will makes dark analysis

As deep as zero and dark as depth;
Until the bell rings and we pause and
Her hair scatters atoms through light.

All universes die on the commute
Through morning choked
By the tendrils of enterprise.

Destinations reached we file off
One by one, to different feelings,
To unfathomable mysteries of pain.

Spring

This isn’t going to feature in the annals of my best work, but seeing as it was the “writer’s group” exercise that kicked off the writing again, I thought I should put it here. The workings are rusty, but I’m at least having phrases and rhythms pop into my head again, I’ve taken to carrying an Ipaq around with me to jot down lines and hopefully shape poems! I’ve got some in the pipeline now so I hope to post them here. Might be a while before I get up to the level of intensity I used to write with, or maybe less intensity is now the point…

Spring – for want of a better title…

Footsteps of winter stumble into spring;
As trees breathe their dead to life
Insects crawl from dreams of invasion.

A symphony of beaks tunes up
To a metronome of sun and moon
And the year’s new wind conducts.

Stream shatters over still rocks
To splash and catch cold spectrum
As it shifts to kinder colours.

As light lures life from buds
Motes of photons swim still air,
Ignite cold eyes, plough life

Into fields where cricketers wear white
And evergreens pause and wink
As innings change over below them.

Roots fixed and deep still take their
Footsteps through time, pause
Before the sprint into summer.

Finally, I begin to write again…

And it’s like learning to walk again, like I’m learning to write two poems, even two lines at a time. The last few months have been very creative ones for me, but I have been creative with life instead of with words, which we all need to do more of I think. At any rate, I have needed to be more creative, to do new things, to try things I have not done before through fear – in fact there has been a lot of feeling the fear and doing it anyway, as the book says, of late.

I went to my writers’ group last Friday. Well, it used to be a writers’ group, we used to read plays, write poems and stories, and we buzzed for a while. Now there’s just three of us left, so we meet, and we talk, and sometimes we read what we’ve written. The last time we met it was just getting to be spring, so I suggested we write about the changes of the season. I wrote a poem about that, it’s not quite finished, but a weird thing happened – while I was writing this first poem (after what must be a 3 year lack of the poetic urge), another poem begged to be written, and I wrote it. It’s as finished as it’s going to get, and it may not be very good, but I’m greasing the wheels, at least, and hope to continue writing one way or the other. It’s obvious what it’s about, maybe it’s all part of my renaissance, all of it :)

Simplicity

Calculations, fractions of hair,
Beads round your wrist
Like a rosary I count,
And pray with my shaking
Hands as flesh to flesh
Burns and the cauldron spills.

In dark, your anonymous
Celebrity sucks light
Into my eyes as fresh flame blossoms
And your pink skin
Speaks of sin
And the stain of knowing.

Peel away from
Sheets and each other
And the universe survives.
It is all so simple.
You simply turn
And simply
Kiss.

Dismiss.

Alcohol

Alcohol has played a big part in my life – sometimes positively and sometimes negatively. All too often negatively! For a long time I spent life in a kind of Dylan Thomas haze of self destruction. The killing factor for me is that I’m a bit of a control freak, or at least I like to be control, and my problem is that my physical tolerance is far greater than my mental tolerance. So I can down a bottle of bourbon, still walk around and appear fairly sober – but inside my brain and my mind are totally gone. Completely. The amount of blackouts is frightening (and the worst thing is, I go walkies on the internet and post on forums, and it all appears perfectly rational at the time, then I get up and can’t even remember what I posted, and most of the time it’s drivel. Even when it still makes sense, I still shudder at it because I don’t remember posting it… And this wet stuff that sends you insane is legal and sponsors sports events, while other stuff, that doesn’t do half this, well it’s illegal. Anyway, I gave up for 6 months at a time in recent years, then get curious. At first the drinking is OK – but very soon the blackouts are back, the dread is back, the “wtf did I do last night?” feeling is back. I wrote this poem years ago – should have learned my lesson then. This is a reminder to myself that alcohol and me should not be put together – too volatile a reaction, that’s all :(

Alcohol

Deeper than a lover’s kiss,
Fire-belly dragon breathing backwards,
Spreads its galaxy of warmth
Through twists of veins
To starburst eyes.

Lights up the void,
Sprouts craters on the moon of mind,
Licks at wounds
The day leaves like sparkles
Scattered on a sea of skin.

Quilts guilt like cloud on sky,
Letting memories go like birds,
Oils the gabbling tongue
In dry-iced, cocktail-hour
Hiatus of thought.

Burns at heart like coal,
Now black, now red, and beating
Its SOS: signalling
Blood-sack filled with fumes
And the clot of knowing.

This is
The crucifixion in amber,
The kamikaze into darkfall,
The abused and abuser,
The wasp-in-a-jamjar desperation.

And over and over and over again,
Rising into spikes of light,
The cat-got-your-tongue-and-killed-it,
Flailing, threshing, fretful,
Never-again morning.

Pilgrim

Another travelling poem, written when I was actually travelling – physically, that is. I’ve passed through a lot of stations since I wrote this, physically and philosophically, but I sometimes think this pilgrimage will only end when the engine stops.

Pilgrim

Day snakes
Along miles of track,
Trees either side sprint
Into distance,
The engine pulls me with its drone
To a place I might connect with.
It is an arrow
Splitting through landscape,
Tunnelling the innards of hills
Digesting the day into darkness.

What am I,
Hurtling towards
An unwritten future?
The hands have scraped
Past the hour
A million times before
But never like this,
Slowly, cautiously,
Their quartz world
Unaware of me or distance.

What will I do?
Close my eyes and hope
The transition will be instant?
Lose faith like a dying rocket
Scratching at the sky?
Clutter my tongue
With pregnant narrative?
I move, shrill as a rising note.
Another station gone,
Another to arrive at.

Itinerant

This is from when I was travelling back and forth between home and and my University town, must be about 15 years ago now (how time creeps on). Not a major poem, I was just feeling miserable today, thought it could be worse and dug this poem out.

Hopefully, at the rate I update this poetry blog, I will have started writing again by the time I exhaust my back catalog of poems. For anyone interested, I’m finding it hard to even contemplate sitting down to write. I think the spark may be gone, but I’ll keep trying, and in the meantime I do have all these odd little poems I wrote back in the days when I could string a sentence together…

Itinerant

A tear spoke in his eye
As he approached,
As transient as the travellers
Waiting for connections
But permanent here.
Not much to ask for,
A cigarette, a light,
But wanting too much more.
“Too old for this,” he said,
To sleep on the streets,
His only hope the hope
Of not collapsing
Today or tomorrow.

A tear scribbled down his cheek
As he showed me his hands,
Tattooed when things were different maybe,
Love on the right,
Hate on the left,
His life tossed between the two,
And the travellers
Complaining about the delay
Indifferent to either.

Tableau

This was written during what friends have been calling my “window period”, when I would write lots of poems from the perspective of looking through a window. This one was conceived while looking out of a window on the 4th floor of Manchester Central Reference library, it was raining, people were going about their business. It struck me as some kind of play or movie I was observing from a detached perspective…

Tableau

Faces. Pictures. Lines of light
In downpour whipping
Up emotion, splash of feet

Departing to warmth, to love;
Flume of traffic, spark of tyre
On surface, grind on grind

Of movement, drill of cogs.
Just these, within this window
Frame, then blink, snap,

Splice to some new, not entirely
Unconnected scene. But undirected,
Just the ad lib of players

In perpetual rehearsal, reacting
To reactions, flow on flow
Of drama without beginning

Or denouement. Then cut, dismiss,
Leave just this littered
Screen of pavements,

Specks on empty frames,
Over and over flap of reel at end,
The incomplete flicker of rain.

Darkest Before Dawn

This is from January 1997. A poem about walking in the dark, colliding with the dawn…

Darkest Before Dawn

Movement, just there, branch
Like a windscreen wiper
Over moon. Ineffective.
Then stillness till the screech
Of car beyond
Reminds me of houses
And all that goes with them.

Pennines, slumbering jurassics,
Backdrop to the carnival
Of streetlights
Pitched along
The midway of the valley.
If only I were out there,
Looking back at where I am!

How we hold the past
Like a scrapbook, defacing
The future with memories!
My feet paused here last summer
And a snowfall later
The star-and-shadow sky
Looks much the same.

And however far my feet might
Take me, the return
Will be just memory in reverse;
Even though my hand
Can blot a constellation
It is only for my eyes -
I cannot halt the time

Or change the motion of the skies.
If only it would all stay still,
These moments might collect
Like evidence, a photofit of being.
Too soon, the sun, edge
Rising to slice at sky, opening
The wrists of morning.

Agoraphobic

I wrote this about a girl I once knew. She was agoraphobic. I tried to imagine what it was like and this poem was the result! An illustrated version of this poem first appeared in FLUX magazine, an arts and culture magazine I think is still going and on sale in the newsagents of Manchester :)

Agoraphobic

The world is too vast today,
Tops of buildings
No nearer than nebulae
And dizzy as stars.
How you must envy the girl
Who does not fear the sky,
The clouds her wig
In procession of pleasure,
Intimate with blue.

Love is always too far,
Distant as colour from monochrome,
Perfect as the world that waits
To suck and spread you out.
How you must envy the man
Who sits and shivers
In his dark, hating the walls
That squeeze out atmosphere,
Unafraid of openness.

Your view is cinemascope,
Lens at every angle,
Surrounded by voices
That hush and shush you
As eyes hammer nails into flesh;
Light drags you this way and that,
Kissing you and kissing you,
Greedy as a vacuum
And as merciless.

No choice but to ripple inward,
Hit the deck as life snipes,
Crawl from the crowd
And find some womb to hide you.
How you must envy the walking
Who do not suffer hurt from space,
Who do not need to fear,
Who do not feel the stretch of emptiness.

Interregnum

It’s the middle of the night, and I remember during long periods when I was unemployed and frustrated, I would emulate Marcel Proust by maintaining a nocturnal existence. I’ve always been of a nocturnal bent, really – I love the interesting pause in the world when everyone else (at least locally!) is asleep, and I am free to wander in midnight’s kingdom with my thoughts and dreams. Here I am in the middle of the night again, I’ve been working on my business all day, it’s become really late, and I’m getting that middle of the night melancholy feeling. So I thought I’d dig out this strange little poem which dates from around 1997 or 1998. I haven’t written any new poems yet. Maybe I will. Maybe I need the catharsis that comes from shedding the old poems, like shedding a skin, getting rid of them in a sense, moving them from the hidden confines of my hard drive…

Interregnum

Old sorrows in the night,
Rain like a galaxy at the window
Under streetlight, web of darkling
Fantasies my cold soul,
In its madness, spins.

The sky is my fretboard:
A million notes I play like chaos,
A thousand twangling nothings
That stir the heart like pain
And overture the morning.

This stillness, its grief:
The quiet mind filled
With the prophecy
Of dawn seeping upwards
Like a lapping tide.

And there, that edge of sun
Like a rough blade
Hacking at the wrists of clouds,
Lets out its slick of red
Spraying light like an artery.

New sorrows start the day:
Rain like a bloodstain at the window.
Under the chill sun, meanings twitch
At curtains, birds gather:
Familiars, hieroglyphs, portents.

Sleepless in Surbiton

I deliberately didn’t post anything on Valentine’s Day. It would have been far too distasteful to dig out a love poem and post it just because a particular day demanded it. Last post was a simple love poem, this one is about something more specific. Just one of those nights with an epiphany, an awakening of sorts. And the starfish, sometimes, still lingers…

Sleepless in Surbiton

Shadows patrol the ceiling like the bulks of boats
As fish might see them from their dark.

You float beside me, stirring now and then
Like a buoy that signals the edge of deep water.

Rest won’t come to me, maybe because
I haven’t learned how to dream here yet,

Or because, close to your seaweed hair, I know
That this last sinking is all I will have left of you.

Our bodies turn and touch, two pebbles
Stirred by the churn of water, snatching breath.

If you wake I cannot tell, can only sense
The flutter of your heart, frantic as oxygen escaping.

And then you turn away with your deepening secrets,
And I look at you, lying like a metaphor

Of sand presenting itself to the ocean, and outside
Blackbirds signal dawn like gulls on a dreary spit.

And I slip from your side like a tide going out,
Leave in those rockpool eyes, this starfish of my heart.

Letter in February

A simple little poem, probably best consigned to the poetic dustbin, but since it’s 12 months before it would be appropriate to publish it again, I thought I might as well include this very short old poem from my student days (we’re talking about February 1990 here!). I am still working up to actually starting writing again, any new poems will be published under the poems 2006 category. I really hope I can start producing some high quality poetry again (assuming I ever did before!)

Letter in February

She likes the snow. I am gladdened
By the warmth it gives her, the little
White flames of beauty clinging to her hair.
She is mystery, and comes from
The home of the snow. The flakes are
Her nostalgia, an intricacy of memories.
The snow is my love, irrevocably drifting.

Office Hours

I wrote this poem when I was supposed to be working. As the title suggests, I was in an office at the time. It’s quite a sad and desperate piece, but then the futility of humdrum daily life can often be quite sad and desperate. I’ve been very busy lately running the business that is supposed to give me more time to write, but this poetry blog will get there. I already changed the name, and put it in my own name. There’s ego for you. But I think putting my name to the work is a fair exchange for sharing them with the world for free :) I do write more cheerful, less serious poems, but I have to admit I do have tendencies towards the melancholy. It’s a habit I’m trying to break, though!

OK then, Office Hours. Dedicated to the millions who look from the window of their office, and dare to question the 9-5 slog…

Office Hours

Sky snares attention,
Roofs lean towards the perpendicular
Of desire, shadows
Serpent in corners,
Billow and writhe
In peristalsis of fire.

Surely some tenderness
Waits in the fingers that press
Hot wax
Into the blindness
My days describe?

Chill teeth
Nibble in the guilt of winter.
I have no bones
For the nipping dog to shake but mine;
My clacking life portrays its end
In the thousand little failures
That the hours cast up.
And I have done little
But bleed since the wound
Of this
Place opened.

Whose hand casts the spell
That diminishes success?

When will love fill this mirror
Where I hang my emptiness?

What future can declare itself
Against this endlessness?

(circa 1992)

Vision

I’m starting with some old stuff. This one’s about thinking and writing, and that’s all I’ll say…

Vision

A footprint on the moon? Yes, a step
In the once-happeningness of pilgrimage;
Then, the furtive overlapping of cloud.

My heart tills an alertness of love,
Setting store for tomorrow’s troubles.
I hunker down by the field of drought

To see what can be kept, what withers.
Seasons choose wetness or dryness
But human frames adapt, improve and swell

The harvest of mere accidents.
Still among scatter-crow panic I drop safe
In a hearth place of anywhere.

This hold of mind. This net of being.
These lines I press and furrow, my smudge
Among the the fingerprints of vision.

Welcome to my World

Welcome to my blog, which I’ve called Blog Poetica for the time being. It could change – life’s like that, constantly evolving. I have changed so much in the last ten years it defies expression, but that’s what this blog is about. It might seem like a personal blog, but it’s not; it’s my art demanding expression. Anyway, you’ll find out more about me as time goes on – hopefully through my poems.

For too long I let the “powers” that be, ie the editors of poetry magazines, dictate their terms and basically bury my poetry under a morass of criticism, vituperation, personal attacks and rejection. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy some level of success. I got paid for my first poem when I was 18, had quite a few published, and gave numerous performances. I waited for that breakthrough, that elusive moment which stands clear in the mind – “I’ve made it!” It never came, and as the rejections outweighed the acceptances and the criticism dulled the positive edge of the encouragement, I began to feel under pressure as circumstances vied with my beliefs and sent me on a strange path, to be sure. Full time work destroyed my creativity, and what little I had left wasn’t willing to stand up to the constant pile of rejections telling me, in essence, that I was not a poet, that I was not even a good writer, that I basically had no idea how to write a good poem. There were voices, friendly voices, that spoke otherwise, but they were muted by the thousand slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. To borrow a phrase…

But now I’m back, having been through a mill of sorts. I’ve worked out a way of making a living that will give me time to write – and I’m going to self publish through the Internet medium of the blog. Thanks to the internet, I don’t have to bow to the whims and outrageous prejudice of a few poetry magazines editors, whose only aim, as far as I could see, was to destroy the inspiration and kill the spirit of a genuine poet (and human that I am I took their criticisms and attacks personally!). I will publish my poetry here on this blog, and as an experiment I’m also going to see if I can make some money out of the blog – yes, unashamedly, I’m going to make my poetry pay (or cry trying!)

Soit! As the French might say.